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Cavs Win Kevin Love Trade While Wolves, Sixers Tank For Future

Ben Albert |
August 26, 2014 | 12:32 a.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Starting next season, LeBron won't have to guard Kevin Love, except for in practices (Steve Mitchell, USA Today Sports)
Starting next season, LeBron won't have to guard Kevin Love, except for in practices (Steve Mitchell, USA Today Sports)
On Saturday, August 23rd, the Minnesota Timberwolves officially dealt All-Star forward Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a three-team deal including the Philadelphia 76ers. The exact details are as follows:

Cleveland receives: PF Kevin Love

Minnesota receives: G/F Andrew Wiggins, SF Anthony Bennett, PF Thaddeus Young, $6.3 One-time future trade exception

Philadelphia receives: G Alexey Shved, SF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, 2015 first-round draft pick (Miami)

The trade ends weeks of speculation and rumors regarding the potential deals involving Love, who now heads to Cleveland after six seasons of playoff-less basketball in Minnesota, despite putting up monstrous numbers in most of his time there. While the Wolves are certainly sad to see Love go, it has been well known for quite some time that he wanted out. Now that the trade has been finalized, how did the teams involved fare in their returns?   

Cleveland Cavaliers

Quite simply, the trade for Kevin Love caps an outstanding offseason for the Cavaliers, who in a two-month span have added the league’s best player in LeBron James, the league’s best power forward in Love, and solid veteran options off the bench in Mike Miller, Shawn Marion, and James Jones. There is also good reason to believe that all-time three-point record holder Ray Allen may be headed there as well. Adding these players to the solid core of returning players from last season—namely PG Kyrie Irving, C Anderson Varejao, PF Tristan Thompson, and SG Dion Waiters—instantly propels the Cavs from the 33-49 missed-playoffs team of last year to an instant contender to come out of the East and compete for an NBA title.

One interesting point to note: Love is expected to opt out of his current contract at the end of the season and become a free agent. While the Cavs are supremely confident that they will resign him long-term at that point, there is still a minute possibility that he could be swayed elsewhere. 

Though the Cavaliers have the potential to contend for a championship immediately with the arrival of Love, the move is not just about the present: it also solidifies the future of the team for many years to come, assuming that management can logistically and financially manage the contract questions that will inevitably come with having three All-Stars on one team and younger players soon exiting their rookie deals.

At just 25, K-Love hasn’t even entered the prime of his career, and his style of play—largely based upon fundamentals and basketball IQ rather than sheer athleticism—is the kind that should last deep into his thirties (see: Tim Duncan). At just 22 years of age, point guard Kyrie Irving won’t be in his prime until 2020. Plus, LeBron, 29, seems to be taking serious steps toward prolonging his career, reportedly having dropped a fair amount of weight this offseason in order to reduce stress on his body. In other words, if the Cavaliers play their cards right, they should have a core of at least two All-Star level players for the next decade, with an aging LeBron James as a third.

High-flying Andrew Wiggins will take his talents to Minnesota (AP Photo/John Locher)
High-flying Andrew Wiggins will take his talents to Minnesota (AP Photo/John Locher)

Minnesota Timberwolves

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves, who were knocking on the door of a loaded Western Conference last season (they won 40 games despite losing 13 games by four points or less), find themselves once again trying to reestablish a team identity following the second exit of an All-Star Power Forward named Kevin (Love + Garnett) from Minnesota in the last 10 years. However, GM and head coach Flip Saunders was able to net a very solid trio of players in return for the Love, especially considering the disgruntled All-Star was very clear about his intentions to leave.

In Andrew Wiggins, the Timberwolves receive the number one overall pick of this summer’s draft. A one-and-done 19-year old from Kansas, Wiggins is rather raw and will have a learning curve, but is also athletic enough to contribute immediately for the Wolves, particularly on the defensive end.

In Anthony Bennett, the T-Wolves get the 2013 number one overall pick who had an infamously awful beginning to his rookie campaign last year before showing signs of improvement toward the end of the season. He has reportedly lost weight in an effort to gain quickness and, if he can gain some confidence back, could become a nice role player for the Wolves off the bench.  

Perhaps the most important piece to the team’s success this upcoming season is forward Thaddeus Young. Coming over from the 76ers, Young is a solid option at forward, and is a well-regarded locker room teammate. He should fill Love’s shoes enough to keep the Timberwolves out of the cellar of the Western Conference while they wait for their younger players—like Zach Lavine, Gorgui Dieng, and Shabazz Muhammad in addition to Wiggins and Bennett—to develop. Plus, at just 26, he still has multiple seasons of good basketball ahead (although where the majority of that will be played is yet to be determined, as he can opt out of his contract after this season).

If the talented youth in Minnesota can progress quickly, this team may surprise people as early as this season. They are far more athletic than they have been in years, if not in the entire history of the team. Realistically, it will probably be another couple years before the Timberpups make it to the postseason (they haven’t made it since 2004, the longest drought in the league), but once they get there, they should be an annual postseason presence for years. 

Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers' involvement in this deal is a little more puzzling, as they did not impact the Cavs-Wolves aspect of the deal at all. Rather, they jumped in as a third team to snag a return for Thaddeus Young, who was likely to opt out of his contract at the end of the upcoming season. However, it seems that the 76ers received less for Young in this deal than they could have from other teams. Essentially, they received two bench guys and an average draft pick. Alexey Shved heads to Philadelphia after a promising first half of a season in Minnesota during 2012-2013, followed by a decline in the second half of his rookie year and a complete regress during his sophomore season this past year. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, an NBA journeyman, is a solid defensive player on the wing, but offers little beyond that in terms of making a significant impact. Finally, the first-round pick is contingent on the season of the Miami Heat, who are still expected to fare well this year, as they were able to retain the services of Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh and will once again face a rather shallow Eastern Conference for a majority of their games.

Thaddeus Young is the latest 76er to be dealt in the midst of a massive youth overhaul in Philly (Howard Smith, USA Today)
Thaddeus Young is the latest 76er to be dealt in the midst of a massive youth overhaul in Philly (Howard Smith, USA Today)

Philly's involvement, thus, appears to continue trend in their epic tanking strategy, started back in 2012. They have traded away tons of proven talent for draft picks and salary cap space over the past few seasons, with Thad Young now leaving in a similar fashion as his former 76er teammates Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, and Spencer Hawes. Ideally, after years of stockpiling assets, the Sixers will arise as a youthful powerhouse in a few seasons. Certainly, if they don’t, the transactions made by the front office over the past few seasons will go down as one of the more colossal flubs in NBA history.

Assuming that GM Sam Hinkie knows what he is doing, the conclusion can be drawn that sending Young, one of the more beloved 76ers in recent memory, to Minnesota for cents-on-the-dollar makes sense (no pun intended). Ultimately, though, the bottom line is that the 76ers are a mess and still years away from competing at a high level. This move only further validates that reality, which, ironically, was probably Hinkie’s goal.

It is hard to say that there is any loser in this deal, as each team accomplished their goal: Cleveland now has one of the most talented rosters in the league, Minnesota received a generous return for a player who already had one foot out of the door, and Philadelphia was able to once again swap proven talent for the ability to pick up future talent in the draft. It will be fun to see how each franchise develops moving forward, as each is in a different stage of competitiveness.

Now that the deal is done, sights can be set on the upcoming season, which is just two months away: Andrew Wiggins will make his Wolves debut on October 29th at Memphis. The 76ers also open that day at Indiana. Then, in one of the most anticipated opening games in years, Kevin Love will make his debut with the new-look Cavs on October 30th at home against the Knicks. 

Follow Ben Albert on Twitter @hermthegerm13 



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